I had an opportunity to interview a first time author. Saurabh Garg.
Here is what the author said to the questions I asked him:
* ‘The Nidhi Kapoor Story’ is your first book. When did you start working on it? ‘
It’s a long story. Indulge me. So I have this blog that I have been writing for almost 12 years now. Most things I write on that blog tend to be about things I see, things I feel and so on and so forth. Essentially a personal blog. One of these days I was bored and I thought, lemme write a piece of fiction. I started writing and before I knew it. I had written more than 10000 words. And yet I had so much more to say. So I kept writing and before I knew it, the book happened.
In terms of timelines, I started work on it in May of 2013. And I had quit my job by August of 2013 to work on the book.
* Who has been your inspiration?
For the book? No one.
In life, in general, I am part of what they call motivation mafia. I need my daily dose of good morning messages where I see silhouettes conquering mountains with the sun in the back drop and “you can do it” kind of messages splashed across the screen. So, yeah I am inspired by a lot of people. A short list would be Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jason Calcanicas, Chris Sacca and other usual suspects from the world of tech and startups. From the world of fiction, I’d say John Grisham, Sue Grafton, Lee Child, Stephen King, Charles Bukowski, Haruki Murakami. Closer home, Upamanyu Chatterjee. Even Chetan Bhagat for that matter.
* When did it occur to you that you should write a book?
Oh its been a dream since I can remember. I really wanted to see my name on a bookshelf, in August company of other great authors, storytellers and such people. There was no epiphany per se. I had to do it. Destiny as they call it?
* According to you, What’s more important: The characters or the plot?
I am a stickler for characters.
If the character cant hook me, you could throw her in the most elaborate plot, I am not going to read it. For example, you could put The Godfather or The Count of Monte Cristo in any situation and they would make that situation, that plot worth reading.
It is these characters that I remember after I’ve read a book. It is their actions and reactions that makes me root for them, hate them, loathe them and so on and so forth. I take sides of the characters, not the plots.
So to me, at the cost of repeating myself, characters are more important!
* How did you go about your drafting process?
I just write. Till I hit a roadblock. And once I hit that, I stop thinking about the book for a few days. And when the book, the plot and most importantly the characters start to gnaw at me, that’s when I go back and write. I repeat the process till the book is done!
* This is a crime story, how did you start plotting the scenes?
I do not really have a structured approach. I do take copious amount of notes. I use mindmapping. I use index cards to store notes. I do use outlining techniques. I have tons of shortcuts that I developed while working on #tnks.
But I don’t think any of it is structured. I wish I had the brains to capture everything in my head but I have limited capability to retain material and thus I have to rely on all these tools.
For the scenes, I think of each scene as an incident. And then I think of all the characters that could play a role in that incident. Or the characters that can get molded, shaped, honed as an outcome of that incident. And then I write. Till I get it write.
* Your style of writing is appreciable, any suggestions for those who want to try their hand at writing?
Just one. Write.
Everything else is noise. No one cares if what you’ve written is good or bad. As long as you write, as long as there is black on white (or pale yellow or whatever color you prefer), as long as there are words, you are doing a great job.
If you think you’ve written a shitty piece, trust me, it is better than the piece that the greatest writer has thought of but not written yet!
* What was your biggest roadblock?
I may sound petty but money was my roadblock. I don’t have any rich uncle or loaded girlfriends. So I had to work alongside to make ends meet. Often I would get stuck in the day job and won’t have the time to write.
In fact even now, I am working on my next book but my day job keeps me busy and thus the story is languishing in some forgotten folder deep in the hard disk of my laptop. I hope to get back to it someday. Once I have made enough to pay for my bills of the month.
* What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
While I have read work of the legendary Pran at Diamond Comics (Chacha Chaudhary, Billu, Pinki etc) and Raj Comics (Super Commando Dhruv, Nagraj, Doga etc) as a kid, English fiction happened to me when I was almost 24. My first tryst was with John Grisham and Jeffery Archer. And then I moved onto things like Bukowski and Murakami. So I’d say I like to read popular fiction. To date I can not read or comprehend literary fiction. I do love Shantarams and Kite Runners of the world but I cant seem to develop a taste for those.
In terms of what has influenced me, I wont know. I love this quote by someone, “if I’ve seen further, I’ve done by standing on the shoulders of the giants.”
So if I can write, and if someone appreciates the way I write, I’d say that my work is a reflection of all that I’ve read and then all that I’ve been able to comprehend. No one guru per se, but a collective.
* When you finished writing this book, did you have a Plan B?
Nah. I knew I was going to get lucky. Universe is on my side in that sense.
And it was surprisingly very easy for me to get a publisher. A friend introduced me to Grapevine and they were a pleasure to work with. Right now they are after my life for the draft of my next book but apart from that they are pretty cool!
* So next is what?
Next is the next book. Hoping it will be out in first half of 2016.
I tried my hands at writing a TV serial. But the director threw me out after I had written just three episodes. I enjoyed the process but I guess I am not cut out for it. I will of course try my hands at it again after a while.
May be a movie. Actually I want to write a movie and may be produce it. Lets see when that happened.
*Last but not the least, What is the question you would most/least like to be asked by the audience, and what is your answer?
I’d love if someone super rich came up to me and asked if I’d want to marry her. The answer is yes.
And I hate it every time someone asks for a free copy of the book. Rather, I tell them to buy the book and in case they don’t like what they read, I take them out for a coffee. Or a drink. Or a drive. Or whatever.
Those were some great questions.